Medroxyprogesterone acetate exacerbates glutamate excitotoxicity

Gynecol Endocrinol. 2006 Jul;22(7):355-61. doi: 10.1080/09513590600863337.


We previously demonstrated that progesterone functions as a neuroprotective agent whereas medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA; Provera) does not. Moreover, MPA antagonized the neuroprotective and neurotrophic outcomes induced by 17beta-estradiol (E2). Towards developing effective hormone therapies for protection against neurodegeneration, we sought to determine whether formulation, chemical features or prevention versus treatment mode of exposure affected the outcome of MPA treatment in survival of primary hippocampal neurons. Results of these analyses indicated that both crystalline MPA and a pharmaceutical formulation (Depo-Provera) lacked neuroprotective efficacy, indicating that the effects were not dependent upon MPA formulation. Likewise, MPA in the prevention and treatment paradigms were equally ineffective at promoting neuronal survival, indicating that timing of MPA administration was not a factor. Further, the detrimental effects of MPA were not due to the presence of the acetate group, as medroxyprogesterone was as ineffective as MPA in promoting neuronal survival. Moreover, MPA pretreatment exacerbated neuron death induced by glutamate excitotoxicity as indicated by a 40% increase in neuron death determined by direct live/dead cell count and a commensurate increase in the number of positive cells by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick end-labeling. Collectively these results predict that the progestin formulation of hormone therapy will affect the vulnerability of the central nervous system to degenerative insults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Drug Synergism
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid / toxicity*
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / adverse effects*
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / pharmacology
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Neurotoxins / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Neurotoxins
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate